Sunday, July 25, 2010

When you're the obstacle

It happens all the time: A new psychological study tells us that people can me manipulated by the strangest things. The last such study I read about found that a picture of a library on the wall made people speak softer, that people behave more competitively when they see a sharp leather briefcase and that they keep their desk tidier when there's a scent cleaning agent in the air. Read about the study on Time magazine.

There's one major problems with all these studies: They're missing the point. Or rather, they are missing at least one crucial point.

How come some people do NOT react on these manipulative hidden clues? Shouldn't that be the real point? It's very, very easy to manipulate people. But how come some of us don't bite? What is it that make some people able to NOT fall for these things?

I may fall for a lot of these hidden clues, but I know for a fact that there are plenty of clues that other people react to that I don't react to. So what gives? Am I just wired differently? Or am I thinking in a way that stops me from changing my behaviour, just because of a sharp leather suitcase?

And I'll bet that there are people out there that don't react to clues that I fall for. So, shouldn't someone somewhere try to find out if there's a common MO that will make us more immune to manipulation?

That would be something, wouldn't it? A way to immunize you and me from manipulation, a way that will make us more independent.

Why is no one looking at the other aspect of manipulation, deception and illusions? Where are the studies that help us withstand more.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lets hope we never get what we want.

So, you've read the latest scandal about... well, where should we start. How about the angry ramblings of Mel Gibson? What about Robbie William and his ramblings, scandals and other weird stuff? Roman Polanski. Phil Spector. Tom Cruise. Just to mention a few. Why do so many stars succumb to drug-abuse? Or crazy behavior?

The answer is easy: When you have everything, nothing will be worth much. And if you can't handle that freedom, you will do anything to make something worthwhile. You will try your very best to reinstate value into the things that used to be valuable to you. You will hold on tighter to anything that will give you just a gist of the glorious past. Why? Because we don't know any better. We can only do the things we already know how to do, unless we change our entire being. And not many people have the courage to experiment with what the consider their core values. Even though most people realize that values are relative.

They actually see it in their lives as the pleasures of youth turns into silly pleasures. But if they can't find any other pleasure to fill their days with, they will turn to former pleasures and exagerate them. They will do more drugs, they will do more extreme things until one of two things happens. They either realize that they've lost their way in life, since pleasure seems absent. Or they will destroy them selves chasing higher extremes. And it happens all the time.

It's hard not to get what you think you deserve. But it's even harder getting everything you ever wanted. Because you will find yourself in a spot where you either realize that you never really wanted what you thought you wanted, and that basically all you work in getting it, was futile; or you will find that everything you hold dear in life is just as superficial as anything else.

And if they can not find a way to put value into their lives, they will turn to belief. They will become AA's, Scientologists, Kabbala believes, born again christians. Not that this will really give you anything but a way to pass time. Not because you feel it's worth it, but because you realigned you reality into a fight to belief. It's like pissing you pants to keep warm. You can keep pissing until your final day, and you will feel warm, simply because you BELIEVE and therefore have to struggle to maintain that belief. And beliefs last longer than any worldly good. But a belief is still an attachment that only works because you no longer know the object your strive towards - that's the genius of religion: They will never tell you that you found god or the higher meaning; they will only ever say that you can be better than you are. And so you find yourself on a path that never ends, because you basically just adapts to a belief-system that you will never get. Isn't that great: Finally a pasttime that will last a life time.

Unless, of course, you stop and think: What is true for me? But that would mean taking responsibility for your life. Religion is to put that responsibility on others and delude yourself to believe that someone else is closer to god, nirvana or Thetans (scientology).

You will always wind up with yourself and not one thing in the whole world will ever distract you enough from that place where we all have to go: To the mirror where we will finally realize what and who we are. And at that point, you'll probably be so attached to the way everyone else wants you to be, that it will be very, very hard to NOT be that person.

It must be the most awful thing that could ever happen to anyone: Getting exactly what you want. I know it was the hardest thing that ever happened to me, because I knew, without a doubt, that all the values i had was false. And I didn't even have half of what Gibson, Williams, Spector, Polanski or all the others have.

God luck, and I hope you will lead a curious life where you are in charge, not just a pleasant one where you outsource your life to someone or something else.

Letting go

It's so very hard for most of us to let go of anything. We like our cars, we like our appliances, our game consoles, our computers, our biceps, triceps and our abs and we love the people who love us or makes us feel good. It's very hard to let go of the things we love.

We even love our enemies, we love to hate the things we hate, we love our life crisis, our problems, our deadlines and most people love their jobs, even when they hate to do the work. It's just as hard to let go of the things that we hate.

We cling to all the things that makes our human existence human. The work and the toil and the feeling of being a difference for someone somewhere at any time.

But what if all this clinging to stuff is holding us back? What if our idea of being human is less than it could be, just because we cling to things?

Usually we're held back by the things we cling to. They fill every waking hour of our lives and we have gotten used to living a todo-list-life. Even our holidays are packed with todo's and agendas. It's so very hard to just stop doing anything and just being in the moment and enjoying it. It seems like none of really think we deserve to be free and happy, unless we put in the work to earn it. And when we finally get to be free and happy, we choose to put our freedom into a well organized schedule.

Some years ago I got the job I always wanted. That happened more than once, actually. My pay was enourmous, but so was the hours and the workload. And suddenly I realized that all the extra money just meant that I lived way more expensive than I used to. When I realized that the job that I wanted, wasn't really something I wanted to do, I quit and my pay was reduced to the bare minimum. And i found myself with enormous amounts of time on my hand. The first months I enjoyed it immensely. I read all the books that I hadn't had time to read before. I even spent an entire month seeing every episode of every season of tv-shows like Dr. House, Angel, Boston Legal and every movie I missed the last 10 years. And then I ran out of anything to do.

My todolist was empty. And I felt like crap. I mean, having lived a life where I defined by self and my worth in terms of accomplished deadlines and todo's, there suddenlys wasn't anything in my life worthwhile. And at first it made me feel like crap.

And then I realized: I was held prisoner by ideas and values that weren't even mine. I couldn't let go of the things that I had clung to so hard. And it pissed me off. Being able to do what I want, when I wanted to and go where I wanted when I wanted, should be a blessing, but it felt like a curse.

I've let go of almost every need. I still need to eat, drink and sleep. But the only reason I need a job is to get paid, so that I can pay rent and buy food. But everything else is now "nice to have" and not "need to have". And I don't have very many things.

And now, I am always doing something that I love, just because I love it. I wake up in the morning and write a post like this, or I wake up and just sit in the morning sun feeling its warmth, or I wake up and do something completely unexpected. Suddenly there's almost no agenda to my life and every days is more exciting because of it.

It's freedom baby, and its hard to get by unless you let go. And let's face it, most people loooove the prison they created for them selves. I know I did. And there's probably still a lot of chains that hold me prisoner, but there are a lot less chains than before. And I'm getting really close to being entirely without chains.
So, because you probably love your prison, I will not even contemplate telling you to get out or let go. Besides, you probably don't have the balls to take what comes with freedom. You see, when you're free there's no one to tell you what to do, and that makes you totally responsible for everything that you do.

So do you? Have the balls to live free?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordly enlightenment

Enlightenment is a difficult word, since it has so many different meanings. For some "enlightenment" is about a period of history, for others it's about spirituality.

I don't believe that we can actually say anything meaningful about spiritual enlightenment. But we can speak of a worldly enlightenment. Worldly enlightenment is about being aware of everything that happens in your mind and with your emotions.

Here's an example. You're driving to work, and when you arrive you realize that you can't remember anything from your drive. You know that you drove to work, but can't remember a single thing since you got into you car. When you arrive you 'wake up' and realize that you have been doing something without even being aware of it. That's enlightenment.

When you drove you weren't really aware. Your mind didn't really need the sense of YOU to drive to work, and since you had nothing to think about, your 'you' dissappeared. So, in some sense, you were taken over by processes in your mind and you lost your self to those processes.

The same happens when you get very excited. For instance, angry people are no longer aware of their anger. They ARE the anger and the anger is controlling them. They loose them selves to feelings.

At other times we even think we are aware when we really aren't aware. When you read a book or when you spend hours thinking about some issue, you forget yourself and you're not really present. You mind has gone to another place, and you forgot where you were.

So, being enlightened in the worldly sense is to be aware of all the things that you do, think and feel, while you do, think and feel them.

But, how aware or enlightened can we get? Is there an upper limit? The answer is yes, at least when it comes to worldly enlightenment. That limit is when you realize that the idea of who and what you are is a mental construct. That you actually create yourself in every moment. When you get to that kind of enlightenment, you're done, and you will have to work real hard to become  unenlightened again.

Before that upper-limit the benefits are huge. You will be able to register a lot more of reality in any given moment. You will realize what this particular moment can lead to, and you'll be able to 'spin' every moment towards what ever you want. It's a huge, huge difference. It's like being the best you can be, all the time, and not just in a few glorious moments in life.

Oh, one more thing: spiritual enlightenment is the only way to continue past the upper limits of worldly enlightenment. I will get back to spiritual enlightenment in a later post.

For now, just think about it: Can you be better than you are right now? If you don't think so, you're probably already enlightened or, more likely, in denial about your faults.

And here's a warning: Going for enlightement means that you will face every flaw, every fault and every mistake you ever made. But, in the end, there will be no flaws, faults or mistakes left. You will be in the moment, making informed decisions and you will know where that decision will lead.

It's simply a great way to live.
react to reactions in other people, that you weren't able

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Level one in 4 steps

This post is about meditation and is about the first 4 of 12 steps towards enlightenment (whether worldly or spiritual). The first post is here.

Do you have control of your body? No, I'm not talking about moving your arms or legs, I'm talking about the inner body: the pulse, perspiration and not-moving your arms or legs.

Before we go into each step, let's have a look at what this level is about. It's about making the body stay as still as possible. Do it for a few minutes just to ground your self in everyday life and inoculate yourself from stress and panic. Do it for longer periods of time to get a more permanent calmness in your entire being.

Basically this level will make you experiment with the body by making you breathe differently. For me, there are three ways to breathe when I meditate.
  • -fast and rythmic, sometimes even forceful breaths. This will make your pulse rise, it may even make you perspire and it's a forceful way to make you body do what you want.
  • Slow and calm. Just breathe in slowly, and breathe out slowly. Don't worry about the rhythm, just let your breaths come naturally, but make sure that you complete every breath (all the way in, all the way out, all the way in, all the way out)
  • Almost sleeplike breathing. This comes naturally when you fall asleep or if you go into deep meditation. However, its hard to come by this type of breath by will alone, because you need to slow you entire bodily system down. If you can't go in to this form of breathing at the beginning, don't worry - it will probably come by it self at some point, or you can return later after you've worked on different steps and try again - it will get easier, as you improve you meditation skills.
If you have some kind of focus, it will make it a lot easier. A good place to focus is on the tip of your nose. Notice how it gets cooler when you breathe in, and warmer when you breathe out? Good, keep noticing it and keep your focus, while you maintain your current breathing pattern.

If you're new to meditation, you might get impatient, because what you're doing seems like a waste of time. After all, you probably measure meaningfulness in ways of producing stuff or ideas, doing stuff, having obligations, stressing out over deadlines and all things that we value in life.

Meditation IS different. And it might take some time for you to realize the benefits. So, here are few ways to make it a bit easier:
  1. When ever you're bored, commuting or something else: Just take a few minutes and breathe easy. I mean, why not - its not like your doing anything else?
  2. Before any physical exercise breathe forcefully and deeply for 1-2 minutes. This should improve your performance. This is especially noticeable when swimming or snorkeling.
  3. Before a meeting that makes you uncomfortable or gives you an adrenalin rush, go somewhere private, even the restroom or just close the door to your office if you have one, and breathe easy and calmly for 3-5 minutes (if you're already stressed, you probably will have to use some will power).
This works because it takes away the biological control of your existence. You're actually starting to break the bond between emotions and bodily reactions. It will make it easier for you to perform just as you want to perform, and it will make it easier to remain calm and undisturbed, even when that thing that wasn't supposed to happen, happens anyway.

12 steps to freedom

Freedom is to know what is going on within ourselves, so that we know why we do stuff. But freedom is a hard thing to do, and maybe that's why a lot of people use the word 'enlightenment' instead. But they are the same thing. Freedom is enlightenment. Enlightenment is freedom.

There are exceedingly many ways towards enlightenment. However, there are basic stuff that we all need to let go of. This 12-step guide is based in part on anapanasatti meditation, but almost entirely without any reference to spirituality.

The 12 steps consists of 3 levels with 4 steps in each. First level is about the getting your body to stay silent for longer periods of time.

Second level is about your emotional life and release yourself from the control that emotions have over your experience of life and the way you live it.

Third level is about the mind, and is the most subtle of them all. Can you make your mind stay silent?

How long will it take?
There's just no way of telling. You will know when you arrive at enlightenment, but until then, you'll probably realize quite often, that you need to go back to an earlier level or step.

For instance, even though you have complete bodily silence the experiences on level 2 (emotions) will probably cause your body to react. That is perfect, because any disturbance of your bodily silence is an indicator that tells you, that you've found some friction in your emotional life.

You can go through all 12 steps in one meditation, but it will probably not get you to enlightenment. That's ok though - just remember that you must practice every step until you're master it. And if you think that you master it already, do the step anyway, even for a short while, just to make sure.

How to meditate?
Basically, meditation is all about listening to what goes on inside of you. If you're a skeptical person who don't believe in spirituality, don't worry - this will not make you into a born again happy hippie. But it will bring you a much better balance in life, and just like you can become healthy and bodily balanced through training and eating right, meditation will bring your mind to stable ground and make it easy to keep it there; even when everyone else is panicking or stressing out.

A lot of guides about meditation recommends that you spend 20-30 minutes a day, every day on meditation. The truth is, you don't have to. They also recommend that you find a quiet spot and maybe play some 'spiritual' music. If that is good for you, go right ahead. But you probably don't need to.

Here's the only thing that you have to do, when meditating: You be quiet and pay attention to what's going on inside you. If you don't know how to do this, read this link (coming soon).

So, lets get started already. Here is a link to the first level.